William Henry Freeman was born in Market Overton on 22 April 1894, the son of Arthur Freeman and his wife. He worked in engineering before joining up on 1 September 1914 with the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He was sent out to France on 29 June 1915, and in July 1916 was on the Somme where his battalion formed part of 110th Brigade. A major British attack was being planned and while they waited for orders the Leicestershires were occuping Bottom Wood near Fricourt. On 12 July the battalion war diary said an intermittent enemy bombardment caused about 30 casualties. On 13 July "after a more or less slow bombardment all day including 77mm guns the battalion was relieved and marched back for rest at Fricourt." William was reported missing on this day and was later said to have died of wounds on 23 July. George Phillips writes in Rutland and the Great War that inquiries were made at the time through the Red Cross to find out what had happened, but without success. This seems to imply William might have been taken prisoner. He has no known grave and is remembered along with 73,000 others on the Thiepval Memorial, Panel 3A, and also on the gates of St Peter and St Paul Church in Market Overton.
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